Susan Schreibman – Digital Scholarly Editing

Susan SchreibmanDigitising Scholarly Editing

Schriebman looks at the whole placement of the digital text and the context in which it is set. Unlike the printed format, the covers and tactile nature of the media set the scene for what the text should be. Much like the judging of the book by the cover. Schreibman looks at how the placement in the digital impacts the reader’s perception of the text and how it may be experienced differently to the printed version.

Much like the way in which the text is displayed digitally, Schreibman shows the evolution of a common format and structure. A structure that not only allows the reader to view the texts onscreen digitally, but also how the computer or device reads the texts. Machine-readable languages such as HTML and XML allow for further investigation of the content within the text themselves. The reader can search specific terms or tags within the text, like an inbuilt footer note system. Greatly moving away from the flat, PDF like format where no interaction or search functionality can take place. This evolution also gave a new home to the layering of multiple text editions and formats. No longer are we provided with the format chosen by the text digitizer, now we can chose from the many editions of that piece of text, where huge variations can be found.

Schreibman is cautious in her review of the digitising of the texts and believes that the means by which it happens can be subjective on the part of the participant conducting the exercise. It is as if we as human conducting the task of digitization, should in fact remove all human emotions or considerations and ourselves apply a mechanical almost robotic approach to the activity. We must strip back the action of digitizing to be a mechanical one, to allow for the deep human interaction, which will take place after the task is completed. Consideration must be given to after avoid any subjectification.

We can draw parallels with the creation of the web where a single formatting would allow many people to come together and share information and engage. Tim Berners-Lee knew the high importance of having a single language for all to communication. On the digitizing of texts, Schreibman knew that there needed to be a single format and approach for all digitizing to have one approach. Remove the human or individual approach and have a more mechanical one.

The Text Coding Initiative gives structure and guidelines to how the digitization should happen. Not only does it give one encoding format for all users to use, it also allows the work completed, to be further experienced by the bigger public arena through the many platforms that use this same formatting: Libraries, Museums, Publishers and Individual Contributors and Readers.

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